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Vitamins, minerals and supplements

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Fruit and vegetables are an essential part of a balanced; which in turn is the best way to obtain your vitamins, minerals and trace elements

Vitamins and minerals are the essential nutrients that your body requires in order to properly function. Normally, most people will get all of the nutrients they need from a balanced diet. v Taking vitamin or mineral supplements for a prolonged period of time may cause harmful effects. Consult your doctor if taking supplements for a long period of time.

What types of vitamins are there?

There are two types of vitamins: fat-soluble vitamins and water-soluble vitamins.

Fat-soluble vitamins

Fat-soluble vitamins are generally found in fatty foods like animal fats. they include butter, lard, vegetable oils, dairy foods, liver and oily fish.

You need these vitamins for your body to function properly. However, your body stores fat-soluble vitamins in the liver and fatty tissues for future use so you do not need to eat foods that contain them everyday. Because these stores of vitamins and minerals can build up over time, taking too much of them can be harmful.

Fat soluble vitamins are:

Water-soluble vitamins

Your body does not store water-soluble vitamins so you need them more regularly.

Any excess of water-soluble vitamins are expelled when you urinate so as a generalisation, these vitamins are not normally harmful. Even so, large amounts of water-soluble vitamins can still be harmful.

Water-soluble vitamins can be found in seeds and grains, fruit and vegetables. Because the essential vitamins are easily destroyed by heat they can be lost during the cooking process. Boiling the vegetables is particularly destructive to the water-soluble vitamins. Steaming or grilling is the best way to cook vegetables without destroying the water-soluble vitamins.

Water soluble vitamins are:

What are trace elements?

Trace elements are similar to essential minerals but they are required in very small amounts - see Essential minerals table below.

What are essential minerals?

Your body needs minerals for the following mains reasons:

  • Building strong teeth and bones
  • Controlling the cells body fluids
  • Converting the food you eat into energy

Recommended daily allowance (RDA) for minerals and trace elements

Minerals can be found in meat, cereals, dairy produce, fish , nuts and vegetables. They are an important part of a health diet.

Dietary element RDA/AI (mg) Category High nutrient density
dietary sources
Potassium 04700.0004700 mg is a systemic electrolyte and is essential in coregulating ATP with sodium. Legumes, potato skin, tomatoes, bananas, papayas, lentils, dry beans, whole grains, avocados, yams, soybeans, spinach, chard, sweet potato, turmeric.
Chlorine 02300.0002300 mg is needed for production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach and in cellular pump functions. Table salt (sodium chloride) is the main dietary source.
Sodium 01500.0001500 mg is a systemic electrolyte and is essential in coregulating ATP with potassium. Table salt (sodium chloride, the main source), sea vegetables, milk, and spinach.
Calcium 01300.0001300 mg is needed for muscle, heart and digestive system health, builds bone, supports synthesis and function of blood cells. Dairy products, eggs, canned fish with bones (salmon, sardines), green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, tofu, thyme, oregano, dill, cinnamon.
Phosphorus 00700.000700 mg is a component of bones (see apatite), cells, in energy processing and many other functions. Red meat, dairy foods, fish, poultry, bread, rice, oats. In biological contexts, usually seen as phosphate.
Magnesium 00420.000420 mg is required for processing ATP and for bones. Raw nuts, soy beans, cocoa mass, spinach, chard, sea vegetables, tomatoes, halibut, beans, ginger, cumin, cloves.
Zinc
(trace element)
00011.00011 mg is pervasive and required for several enzymes such as carboxypeptidase, liver alcohol dehydrogenase, and carbonic anhydrase. Calf liver, eggs, dry beans, mushrooms, spinach, asparagus, scallops, red meat, green peas, yoghurt, oats, seeds, miso
Iron
(trace element)
00018.00018 mg is required for many proteins and enzymes, notably hemoglobin to prevent anemia. Dietary sources include red meat, leafy green vegetables, fish (tuna, salmon), eggs, dried fruits, beans, whole grains, and enriched grains. Grains, dry beans, eggs, spinach, chard, turmeric, cumin, parsley, lentils, tofu, asparagus, salad greens, soybeans, shrimp, beans, tomatoes, olives
Manganese
(trace element)
00002.3002.3 mg is a cofactor in enzyme functions. Spelt grain, brown rice, beans, spinach, pineapple, tempeh, rye, soybeans, thyme, raspberries, strawberries, garlic, squash, eggplant, cloves, cinnamon, turmeric
Copper
(trace element)
00000.9000.900 mg is required component of many redox enzymes, including cytochrome c oxidase. Mushrooms, spinach, greens, seeds, raw cashews, raw walnuts, tempeh, barley
Iodine
(trace element)
00000.1500.150 mg is required not only for the synthesis of thyroid hormones, thyroxine and triiodothyronine and to prevent goiter, but also, probably as an antioxidant, for extrathyroidal organs as mammary and salivary glands and for gastric mucosa and immune system (thymus): Sea vegetables, iodized salt, eggs. Alternate but inconsistent sources of iodine: strawberries, mozzarella cheese, yogurt, milk, fish, shellfish.
Selenium
(trace element)
00000.0550.055 mg a cofactor essential to activity of antioxidant enzymes like glutathione peroxidase. Brazil nuts, cold water wild fish (cod, halibut, salmon), tuna, lamb, turkey, calf liver, mustard, mushrooms, barley, cheese, garlic, tofu, seeds
Molybdenum
(trace element)
00000.0450.045 mg the oxidases xanthine oxidase, aldehyde oxidase, and sulfite oxidase Tomatoes, onions, carrots

See also